The Freedom Seed Vault

 

By Subiet – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92970583

On the cold and inhospitable little Norwegian island of Spitsbergen is an oddly photogenic structure, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This austere yet visually striking underground storage facility is intended to secure the world’s agricultural future in the event that some barely imaginable catastrophe threatens it.

I don’t worry much about mass extinctions, v I certainly don’t worry about climate change. And I live way up north, in one of those growth zones where only fence posts, cows, and a few lichens really thrive, so I’m accustomed to plants that scoff at adversity and power on through.

Still, the idea is romantic, and I thought of the Seed Vault last month when I was pondering the current political climate. In particular, I thought about free speech and free association. When a tech giant kicks someone off social media, the victim loses more than a ready platform. He or she also loses a network of connections, some of which may not be readily recreated.

I’ve taken all of my social media time, a lot of my sleeping time, and probably too much of my work time, and I’ve built something in response to the growing wave of censorship and de-platforming. I call it the Freedom Seed Vault. It’s intended to be an online repository of contact information, a way for people who may not know each other outside of a particular social media platform to get connected in a way that Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and Amazon can’t break.

I invite anyone interested in it to try it. It’s a bit of a work in progress, and certainly nothing flashy (I don’t do flashy), but it’s live now. Take a look if you see a value in making it easy for people to find you if your favorite social media site kicks you out — or if they get kicked off of theirs.

You’re welcome to start by connecting to me. Click the link below, create an account (and you can make it as anonymous as you wish; privacy was a major emphasis here), and you’ll always know where to find me on the internet. And I’ll know where to find you, if you have any interest in being found.

Hank Racette at the Freedom Seed Vault

Thanks,
Hank

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  1. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    What a remarkable idea!

    • #1
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=7f08a055-25a7-4704-8bc5-58313d916dd5

    That’s me on the FSV.

    • #2
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Will certainly do. So far, RushBabe49.com has not been threatened and all are welcome to follow me there. 

    • #3
  4. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    I’m a hermit. If it all goes dark, well, I don’t know what. I will soldier on and adjust to life without internet. 

    But very cool idea!

    • #4
  5. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I think there should be more bunkers filled with enough stored genetic material to enable to repopulation of humanity. 

    • #5
  6. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Signed up as RushBabe49.

    • #6
  7. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    It’s not hosted at AWS is it?

    • #7
  8. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I love the concept, Hank, but am shy about making any media commitments. I wasn’t on any of the platforms, so they can’t kick me off. I’ll certainly give this some thought. Thank you.

    • #9
  10. Mim526 Inactive
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=2b60428b-7f77-4aae-b36d-04290cd363f9

    Ways to contact like-minded people may become important in the not-so-distant future.  My link on FSV above.

    Thanks, Hank.

    • #10
  11. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Is that why you’ve been so quiet lately?  

    • #11
  12. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I love the concept, Hank, but am shy about making any media commitments. I wasn’t on any of the platforms, so they can’t kick me off. I’ll certainly give this some thought. Thank you.

    Susan, I completely understand.

    But since you mentioned it, let me emphasize the degree of anonymity one can enjoy on this thing.

    You can create a basic account with two items of information: a user id that you make up, and a password that you make up.

    That’s it. There’s no requirement that you enter your real name, your email address, or any other contact information. You can create an account and never enter anything that identifies you or allows people to find you. You’ll still be able to see the contact information for anyone to whom you’re connected. All anyone will see of you is whatever name you made up when you joined.

    That’s an extreme of anonymous membership, and I made it that way deliberately.

     

    • #12
  13. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    FSV link https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=5172de3f-0b8c-45ed-89a5-da8119eb0ea8

    • #13
  14. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    It’s not hosted at AWS is it?

    Heh. No, oddly enough, it isn’t. ;)

    But since you asked. It’s hosted by a well-established commercial hosting site popular with small web startups. It makes modest demands on the hardware and doesn’t require much bandwidth, so it can run almost anywhere. I have a backup server on standby that could be put into production in a couple of hours, if we were to lose service with our provider.

    Perhaps I’m overly optimistic (Ya think? — self), but I don’t see deplatforming as much of a danger. This isn’t social media, merely a contact management system. It isn’t a destination, somewhere people would choose to spend time. It’s a utility, a kind of insurance, an emergency rendezvous. A post-apocalyptic Rolodox.

    Who could find that offensive?

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thanks, Hank. You convinced me.

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=180f2942-78cf-46e0-aad3-188d072850c9

     

    • #15
  16. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    I’m in. Thanks, Hank. 

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=65862145-047b-41d1-87fa-a743819adc3d

    • #16
  17. Mim526 Inactive
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    It’s not hosted at AWS is it?

    Heh. No, oddly enough, it isn’t. ;)

    But since you asked. It’s hosted by a well-established commercial hosting site popular with small web startups. It makes modest demands on the hardware and doesn’t require much bandwidth, so it can run almost anywhere. I have a backup server on standby that could be put into production in a couple of hours, if we were to lose service with our provider.

    Perhaps I’m overly optimistic (Ya think? — self), but I don’t see deplatforming as much of a danger. This isn’t social media, merely a contact management system. It isn’t a destination, somewhere people would choose to spend time. It’s a utility, a kind of insurance, an emergency rendezvous. A post-apocalyptic Rolodox.

    Who could find that offensive?

    One thing, if we don’t use some sort of handle that’s recognizable to our contacts we won’t know who each other are when added to contact list :-)

    • #17
  18. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Here you go:

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=021a120f-f049-40b2-96b7-db9944c0bfb2

    And thanks. 

    • #18
  19. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    It’s not hosted at AWS is it?

    Heh. No, oddly enough, it isn’t. ;)

    But since you asked. It’s hosted by a well-established commercial hosting site popular with small web startups. It makes modest demands on the hardware and doesn’t require much bandwidth, so it can run almost anywhere. I have a backup server on standby that could be put into production in a couple of hours, if we were to lose service with our provider.

    Perhaps I’m overly optimistic (Ya think? — self), but I don’t see deplatforming as much of a danger. This isn’t social media, merely a contact management system. It isn’t a destination, somewhere people would choose to spend time. It’s a utility, a kind of insurance, an emergency rendezvous. A post-apocalyptic Rolodox.

    Who could find that offensive?

    One thing, if we don’t use some sort of handle that’s recognizable to our contacts we won’t know who each other are when added to contact list :-)

    Absolutely right.

    There’s a balancing act here, between the desire for privacy and the desire to be connected. I wanted to accommodate people who leaned either way, toward more or less anonymity. So a member can join with nothing more than a made-up user ID and a password, maintain complete anonymity, never allow anyone to connect to him or her, and yet see the contact information for those with whom he or she would like to remain in contact.

    This isn’t an “open” system in the sense that members can easily seek each other out. You can’t join the Freedom Seed Vault and start searching for other members. The only people who will appear in search results are those who choose to make themselves searchable — and those people pay a small annual subscription for that visibility. We don’t know how many will want to do that; my own guess is that it will be people interested in maintaining an audience and legitimately concerned about being deplatformed.

     

    • #19
  20. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Signed up as RushBabe49.

    RB, I’m glad to hear it. But here’s the thing:

    No one will be able to find you there as RushBabe49. Because this isn’t really a place where you can go to search for people by name and connect to them. It’s a place where you can stay connected to people you found elsewhere.

    For people to connect to you there, you’ll have to share your Add Contact Link. To do that, log in and go to your Account page, click “copy your link,” and then paste the result into social media — here, for example.

    When I do that I get this:

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=c1684a33-bb6e-4a68-9c83-d6de3e4a7169

    Anyone who clicked on that would add me as a contact to their account, and could then see my contact information — and I could see theirs, if they chose to share public contact information.

    But no one can find me by my name there (Hank Racette), even if they know I’m there, unless they’re already my contact.

    • #20
  21. Mim526 Inactive
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    The only people who will appear in search results are those who choose to make themselves searchable — and those people pay a small annual subscription for that visibility.

    Is that what the premium subscription does that I see on the site?

    Edit:  Never mind.  Found the info under Account Settings in FSV.  Have become premium member, shared some of my contact own info, and can see some of Auggie’s in my contact list.

    Thanks again, Hank.

    • #21
  22. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Who could find that offensive?

    Nancy Pelosi and her horde?

    • #22
  23. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    The only people who will appear in search results are those who choose to make themselves searchable — and those people pay a small annual subscription for that visibility.

    Is that what the premium subscription does that I see on the site?

    Edit: Never mind. Find the info under Account Settings in FSV.

    Exactly.

    Those who become premium members can be searchable, but by default are not. As you said, they have to go to the Settings page and make themselves searchable. (There are some other options for them as well.)

    I’ll change the system today to explain that to new premium members automatically.

    • #23
  24. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Q. I’m thinking of leaving Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t want to lose all of my contacts.

    A. That’s not a question.

    Cute. 🙂

    Good luck, Henry.

    • #24
  25. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Q. I’m thinking of leaving Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t want to lose all of my contacts.

    A. That’s not a question.

    Cute. 🙂

    Good luck, Henry.

    Thank you, Charlotte. (I didn’t actually write that one. One of my minions did. ;) )

    • #25
  26. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Q. I’m thinking of leaving Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t want to lose all of my contacts.

    A. That’s not a question.

    Cute. 🙂

    Good luck, Henry.

    Thank you, Charlotte. (I didn’t actually write that one. One of my minions did. ;) )

    Wow, you have minions! You must be serious about this.

    • #26
  27. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Q. I’m thinking of leaving Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t want to lose all of my contacts.

    A. That’s not a question.

    Cute. 🙂

    Good luck, Henry.

    Thank you, Charlotte. (I didn’t actually write that one. One of my minions did. ;) )

    Wow, you have minions! You must be serious about this.

    Not that kind of minion, Charlotte. The unpaid kind. (Do minions get paid? I’ve no idea.)

    I’m serious about free speech and our right to choose those with whom we’ll associate — to peaceably assemble, in the real world and online. One of the things that most offends me about the tinpot fascistic gatekeepers of Santa Clara is that, when they kick someone off of one of their platforms, they dissolve a network of connections that person had built through countless interactions.

    One can always respond to the claim that freedom of expression is being infringed by Twitter and Facebook and their ilk by observing that there’s always somewhere else to speak. That’s true — though whether it’s a competent argument is debatable. But there’s an investment in associations, in the web of connections that allows us to influence and persuade others, that is also lost when someone is deplatformed. That’s a more subtle and insidious thing than simply silencing someone in one particular venue. There’s a reason people gather together to protest. There’s a reason why progressive institutions would like to disrupt that ability to gather together — at least, to disrupt it for some of us.

     

    • #27
  28. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    It’s not hosted at AWS is it?

    Heh. No, oddly enough, it isn’t. ;)

    But since you asked. It’s hosted by a well-established commercial hosting site popular with small web startups. It makes modest demands on the hardware and doesn’t require much bandwidth, so it can run almost anywhere. I have a backup server on standby that could be put into production in a couple of hours, if we were to lose service with our provider.

    Perhaps I’m overly optimistic (Ya think? — self), but I don’t see deplatforming as much of a danger. This isn’t social media, merely a contact management system. It isn’t a destination, somewhere people would choose to spend time. It’s a utility, a kind of insurance, an emergency rendezvous. A post-apocalyptic Rolodox.

    Who could find that offensive?

    Will it be possible to for anyone with nefarious intentions to access this Rolodex?  What could a nefarious person do with the information that is stored?  Anything?

    • #28
  29. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Thanks, Hank.

    https://www.freedomseedvault.com/Connect?add_contact=cc9112b3-e700-4a76-a5ce-d2259875a604

     

    • #29
  30. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    …when they kick someone off of one of their platforms, they dissolve a network of connections that person had built through countless interactions.

    You are an unusually perceptive analyst of current affairs, and this is a good example.

    • #30